We all need food to survive. Since food is the most important nutrient for survival, it is not surprising that food processing techniques have developed quickly over time. People began gathering food by being around animals and choosing the animals that they ate from. Later, people began to cultivate plants, which allowed them to harvest food from a more controlled environment. Later still, farming and food processing became both possible due to the availability of land and the methods used to grow and process food.
Although human beings have long depended on animal products for their diets, modern society has adopted a much larger proportion of plant-based foods than animal products. Most plant-based foods are made from living organisms such as seeds, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, although legumes (beans) are not considered to be part of the diet. Humans require a wide range of different nutrients in order to thrive, including those required for energy production, tissue repair, the production of hormones, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Food processing is necessary to make these foods available to us in a variety of forms.
Plants are categorized into two broad categories depending on how they are harvested: fresh and dried. Plants are either harvested with the aid of machines, or by hand. Harvesting methods can affect the nutrient content and volume of foods, depending on what is being removed and whether or not the source of nutrients is destroyed. Plants are categorized according to their degree of saturation, color, and structure, on the basis of whether or not they are edible and whether or not they can be eaten on their own.
The main groups of nutrients in most foods are carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and unsaturated fats. These four groups of nutrients make up 70% of the foods that humans eat. Plants are grouped into two broad categories based on how their plant material is harvested. One group is composed of fruits and vegetables, while the other group consists of meats, dairy, grains, legumes, nuts, and other such foods. Fruits and vegetables are the healthiest foods, because they contain a large number of nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, as well as water. Meats, dairy products, grains, nuts, and other unrefined foods, on the other hand, are high in fat, salt, sugar, and other nutrients that are harmful to our health.
Some of the key macronutrients are carbohydrates and proteins. Both contain two molecules of oxygen called “free radicals,” which are crucial in damaging cellular structures. The two types of carbohydrates that we need, which are both derived from plants, are found in fruits and vegetables. The other macronutrient, which is sometimes referred to as fibre, is found in proteins. There are two kinds of proteins: complex and simple.
As you can see, there are a variety of different food groups and foods, like carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, and minerals, that constitute a healthy diet. However, when you eat these food sources, it is important to balance the proportions of each food group to create a balanced, nutritious meal. Luckily, with today’s diverse collection of packaging, and processing techniques, there are many ways to conveniently pack and store your food sources, so that you don’t have to always reach for the nearest tin of potato chips.